Customer Reviews: Paper Towns
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on July 31, 2014
This is a terrible book. There is no character development, the plot is very thin, the dialogue is moronic, and the book just drags on and on and on. At one point the author describes an entire road trip hour by interminable hour from Orlando, Florida to Agloe, New York including stops for gas and junk food that adds nothing to the story. Ordinarily I would precede something like that with "Spoiler Alert", but believe me there's nothing to spoil here.

Never mind my money, I just wish I could get the time I wasted reading this book back.
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on May 15, 2014
I'm by no means a nerdfighter, or a John Green acolyte. I write YA in my free time, and I like to read the works of successful authors to glean ways to improve my own skills. So hopefully anyone who reads this will take my criticisms as just that, and not some agenda to destroy Mr. Green.

As with TFIOS, John Green's prose flows, floating the reader along like a lazy river. It was easy to read 30 to 40 pages at a clip and not even realize it. This is probably his biggest strong suit, and he leans hard on it. I don't blame him at all, but I did think that the book, while not long by YA length, could've shed a few thousand words and suffered no loss in message or quality. A minor quibble, and certainly not the reason I gave this book 3 stars. If anything, the book would be 4 stars if only based on the prose. It was the other elements of the book that detracted from my enjoyment.

While the highly unrealistic (maybe not among nerdfighters, but even as a HS nerd I never quoted poetry or had a preternatural knowledge of arcane subjects that I inserted into my conversations) dialogue seems to suit the characters in TFIOS, especially Augustus Waters, I found a lot of the dialogue seemed odd. Ben's used of honeybunny seemed like a weak attempt to make him discernibly different from his friends. Radar was my favorite character, a genuine kid with odd parents, and an unhealthy obsession with John Greens version of Wikipedia. Even still, I couldn't tell the characters apart for the most part. There wasn't much variation, besides a random y'all, in speech, and none of them seemed to have identifying physical cues, which every person has. We all react differently to happy things, sad things, etc. Everyone seemed to react that same, which seemed odd.

My biggest problem was the main character. He reminded me of Clay from 13 Reasons Why, a rather milquetoast protagonist who seems compelled by forces unknown to chase after a girl with home he's had very little contact with. In Clay's case, its one party. In Q's case, its one random night out. In both situations, it makes no sense that the protagonist is so drawn to these flawed, screwed up girls. Essentially it seems to come down to the fact that HS boys are so stupid and vapid, that Margo's curvy ass, and Hannah's apparently stunning beauty are enough to induce feelings of love, rather than lust.

I actually would've understood if Q thought that Margo was worth chasing because he wanted to ravage her. It's more realistic than him fawning over her, literally forgetting that he's a top student with friends who actually get a crap about him. His entire life becomes Margo, this overwrought girl who talks in grandiose speeches and in all reality, is a pathetic person who goes on a revenge spree because she can't deal with the fact that her boyfriend would want another girl. Boo hoo, woe is me, I need to run away. That girls problems were so minor and silly, that John Green is forced to turn them into villains to make her more sympathetic. It doesn't work in my opinion.

We never really get to truly understand Q's motivations. He's a normal kid who is logical enough to not run away with Margo to new York, but he's crazy enough to drive a day plus at 77 mph to find her in some random upstate town. Once again, the impetus simply isn't there. If at least the pair had a sexual history, or were truly in love, it would seem logical. Without some kind of pre-existing relationship, it seems trite and stupid. This isn't something that only John Green does, its endemic among YA books, which seem to constantly throw two characters into a crazy situation, which somehow leads to love in a matter of hours. The trend needs to stop. We were all teens. NONE of us feel that fast, so why should we accept it in a book? Especially in 'realistic' fiction?

My last problem is the section where they find Margo. The car ride was actually the best part of the book. I loved the friendship and the fun they had. Margo was such a downer, a selfish louse who deserved nothing but disdain. I lost all respect for Q when he kissed her, and also when he simply seemed to gloss over the fact that she never wanted him to come. He came across as a pathetic loser who was so desperate for Margo's lips and presumably what was between her hips, he'd take it any way he could get it, even if it cost him his self-respect. At least TFIOS had a message. I didn't find this book to be moving at all. It was a rather average effort from a very talented writer.
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on July 23, 2015
I decided to read this book after seeing the trailer for the movie. I hated it. I hated Margo. The reason behind Margo leaving felt like an adolescent temper tantrum and she was not intriguing at all. And Q? His obsession with Margo was really annoying, he didn't even really know her! This was my first John Green book to read and I don't get the hype, for him or the book. This book lacked so much that I started skipping pages towards the end just to find out what the hell happened to Margo, even though I really didn't care. After reading this I felt like John Green is full of himself and thinks he is this super genius writer or tries to be with all his awful, over done, metaphors. Boring.
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on June 19, 2013
i really should love john green- i grew up in orlando and have the same dual fascination/disgust with the area, i lived all the moments where being at a denny's at 11pm on a school night felt, for all the world, like the coolest place you could ever be, and the moments where you feel stifled by the fact that the only place to go at 11pm on a weekend is a f-ing denny's. orlando resonates with me, but john green's characters just... don't.

i understand that the point of the book was the deconstruction of the manic pixie dream girl- this girl who seems like the most amazing, interesting person in the world turns out to be a bored teenager who does things simply because she can. unfortunately, every time john green tries to get at the core of girls like this, the portrayal comes up hollow, shallow, and a bit unfriendly to the girls. his male characters are all awkward nobodys with no ambition and no interests or hobbies, and they're always the hero, the relatable character. his female characters turn out to be the same, just plain teenagers, but they are somehow at fault for not being as unique and amazing as the boys want them to be.

i also understand the suspension of disbelief needed to really enjoy fiction, but... what parents in their right minds would ever let a group of teenagers take off on a 2500 mile road trip by themselves and skip their high school graduations? it took me right out of the story and made me think about all the times my mom almost had a heart attack when i wanted to go to like, tampa to see a band play on a weekend. i can believe breaking into sea world (what orlando kid hasn't done some good old-fashioned theme park trespassing?), i can believe the clues left by margo, i can even believe that a character as dull as the main character somehow has loyal friends. i just couldn't get past this!

p.s. i respectfully request that john green stop trying to write characters other than lily white nerdy straight men. he just can't get it right.
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on October 16, 2015
I read Paper Towns at my 12 years old daughter's request. She had seen the movie trailer and was keen on reading the book. She had, however, been told by her school librarian than the PG 12 was debatable. As I enjoyed The Fault in our Stars, we decided I would read it and see if she could do so too.

It is most definitely a book I wouldn't give a 12 years old! How did they get that PG rating?

Through young eyes, Paper Towns' messages could be seen as:

- the only thing that most boys above 16 have in mind is sex (I don't dispute it might be quite true, but do I want my 12 years old to know that? NO!).
One character constantly refers to girls as honeybunnies, mothers are hot, size of testicles and penises widely discussed, wild parties are thrown...etc. Some scenes reminded me of American Pie, not the kind of association I'd like when it comes to teen book.
- Parents are absent or don't really care about their kids. Margo's are completely invisible, they make a cameo apparition when she disappears and then just vanish. We learn at the end of the book that they changed their house's lock to make sure their daughter couldn't come back at will. Really? Is that the sort of message parents would like teens to get?
- on a deeper level, the author's message (do well in school, go to University, get a job and start a family) is so mixed up with contradictory themes that it seems a lot more appealing and glamourous to be self centered and reckless.

All in all, too mature themes and unclear red thread for a 12 years old. I won't discuss the story itself, as it's not the object of that review, but it's sadly not making up for the above mentioned short comings (lengthy, repetitive, lacks momentum, poor characterization). So, not a lot of good things to say about this book! My daughter will be disappointed...
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on December 1, 2014
I loved The Fault in our Stars. I was disappointed in Looking for Alaska. I hated this one.

John Green always writes well. There are always quirky, intelligent banter between characters and statements that make you laugh out loud. This, however, does not make up for the ignorance of the main characters in any way.

Margo, the main girl character, is the most selfish, annoying character I have ever read. Quentin, the main boy character, is a stupid, pansy boy who wastes his time looking for a girl who spent her high school years ignoring him, a person who was his best friend growing up.

I hated the premise; I hated the plot; I hated the ending. The only reason I finished it is because I'm one of those people who have to finish a book if I begin it. I am mad at myself for wasting my money.
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on February 5, 2015
Being that John Green's work is so popular I wasn't sure if it was just a trend or if is work was actually good. I decided on Paper Towns because it seemed like something I would like, and one of my teachers mentioned he really enjoyed it. I revived this book Monday and it is now Thursday of the same week and I've almost completed the entire book. It has instantly slid it's way into my list of favorite books. If your even questioning if to buy this book, do it! Even if it's not the paper or hard cover edition, you should defiantly read this book. This book has made me learn to re-enjoy books.
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on November 12, 2014
Maybe I'm too old to read John Green books, but most likely he's just overrated. This is the second I've read and I am not impressed. I feel like he's trying too hard to write something deep and meaningful of which teenagers can relate. The dialogue is terrible and unrealistic and I felt no emotion for his characters. I hated the book because 1. I don't like his writing style. 2. honeybunnies (come on) 3. This technique was just so annoying and played more to the unrealistic dialogue.

I found this book extremely boring and the ending anticlimactic. I would not recommend it or this author to anyone.
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on April 29, 2015
A teenager would be excited about this book, since it's about "finding oneself" and "coming of age" ideals and dreams. But once people move out of that season of their lives and realize that dreams are not reality, then this book isn't so good. Rather it's about a very spoiled self-centered young girl who enjoys making life hell for those people around her who thought she was their friend. The worse tho is the hero of the book who thinks he can save his friend and so he spends most of the book trying to do that but in the end realizes that the jokes on him. It's quite unpleasant. I don't understand why a movie is being made of this book. I think that that is happening because of the success of this author's other book which was made into a movie.
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on November 14, 2015
I know I'm in the minority here, but I don't like downer endings. If I invest my time and energy reading your book, I want to feel BETTER than if I'd just stuck with my ordinary life. If your book is going to make me feel like crap, I really don't see the point. Work makes me feel like crap without any help. The person the book is more or less about is irredeemable. I found myself actually wishing her bad because she's a rotten person. Won't be reading anything else he writes/wrote.
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